South Africa: Drought Still a Reality in Nelson Mandela Bay

While the rest of the dams supplying Nelson Mandela Bay are overflowing after recent torrential rains, the metro’s biggest supply dam, Impofu, is still only 42% full — but it’s a huge increase from the same time last year.

While this news is welcome, it is by no means the end of the eight-year drought that led to the metro eating into its water storage supplies. The current water supply will only replenish what was used over the past eight years.

NMBM water and sanitation director Barry Martin said for the drought to be declared over, the water level in Impofu dam needed to reach at least 50% to 60%.

“Where we currently are at the moment, we can’t even think about lifting restrictions. The amount of water that we see here is just replenishing the water that we’ve extracted from this dam for the past eight years because of the drought.”

He said the metro was still waiting for the water and sanitation department to complete its assessment and come up with new water restrictions going into next year.

Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Zolile Burns-Ncamashe visited the city to assess the situation.

“We can see the level of the dam. As summer approaches, we hope the summer rains will increase the water levels so that we can meet the demands of our communities,” he said.

NMBM infrastructure head Khanya Ngqisha, from the EFF, said his directorate would focus on improving the ageing infrastructure that has been in use since the 1960s.

“It is a futile exercise to continue ploughing money into treated water that continues to be wasted. Between 30-40% of treated water goes to waste. We need to nip that in the bud. In other countries you hardly see any leaks. We need to fight vigorously against that.”

Ngqisha added that the municipality was going to embark on a vigorous campaign to inform residents that the city is not out of the woods yet and that the drought is still very much a reality.

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